In what is likely the the most miles ever put on a Tesla vehicle, the Roadster that Elon Musk and SpaceX shot into space in February 2018 has completed a full orbit around the sun. The launch, which famously put the first car into space, brought with it the Starman dummy strapped to the drivers seat of the vehicle, which was strapped to a Falcon Heavy as it made its first test flight as a sun satellite. The launch aimed to test the ability of the Falcon Heavy as a reusable launcher, and proved that the company’s reusable features were successful, making it one of the first in history to be used in space travel more than once. A website called Where Is Roadster tracks the precise location of Starman and the Roadster on its journey around the sun at all times, live.
Innovating Space Travel
The ultimate goal of SpaceX, the private space travel company founded by Elon Musk, is to commercialize space travel and make it available for consumers in the future. The company revealed that it plans to begin colonizing Mars as early as 2020, assuming that all goes according to plan in the step-by-step strategy the company has come up with. Sending the Falcon Heavy into space on February 06, 2018, was one of the early steps in that plan. The success of the launch proved that SpaceX would be able to successfully re-launch a Falcon Heavy into space, cutting back the cost of space travel now that the company no longer has to produce new launch gear each time it wants to send a spacecraft into orbit.
Ultimately, the decision to launch a Tesla Roadster into space did more for SpaceX and Musk than simply promote Tesla’s vehicles as the first car in space. Musk used the launch to promote brand awareness and the company’s larger aim to expand humanity into space. The launch served as the perfect opportunity to get people talking about SpaceX and its goals, promoting education on the subject and piquing interest in space travel once again. A recent study showed that more American children have aspirations to one day become Youtube sensations than they do astronauts. So, you know it’s pretty vital to begin piquing children’ interest in space travel once again.
As of now, none of the recent SpaceX launches have carried actual humans into space. The company hopes to change that in the near future, though, as it recently sold its first commercialized seats on a trip that will take a handful of civilians into space. A 2018 auction saw the Japanese billionaire e-commerce entrepreneur and art collector Yusaki Maezawa purchasing every last seat on the BFG (Big Falcon Rocket) which SpaceX hopes to launch in the early 2020’s. The trip, which will send Maezawa and a handful of artists from around the world (chosen by Maezawa, as he plans to gift the seats to artists of his liking) on a trip around the moon and back, will be the first of its kind.
Where Is Starman Headed?
The Roadster, which carries the dummy dressed as an astronaut through space, has no plans of returning to Earth anytime soon. Some simulations have suggested that Starman has a small probability of coming crashing back down to earth, but it’s unlikely. And if it did happen, it would not happen in our lifetime. You can track the exact location of Starman on his journey around the solar system here. According to the website, Starman is around 180 million miles away from earth, moving at the speed of nearly 1,300 miles per hour away from us.